Authors: Beverley Johnson and Sue Rosen
Client: Hughes Truman & Ludlow for Northern Area Health Service
This history report consists of a thematic history and a chronology, which details the physical development of the site. For reasons of accessibility/readability the chronology is divided into three sections major works, landscape and minor works.
Physically the site and the buildings bear witness to the change in the care of the insane over a period of 156 years. Both have adapted or evolved to accommodate changing numbers and theories about the causes of insanity, of how it should be treated and who should be responsible for that treatment. It is a prime example of the continuing tension between the ideal and the possible, between government funding and public need.
Initially the buildings and site were the treatment. It was through the correct use of space - classification and separation of patients - that moral well being emerged and was maintained. As the nineteenth century aged, the buildings and landscaped grounds became the essential background to treatment by other means. It was then necessary to have a clean and efficient hospital, the right environment for rest, good food, comfort and pleasant surrounding. The site carries the evidence of the changing nature of transport and the need and ability of the hospital to adapt. Gradually the philosophy of care again turned toward the environment as community and professional attitudes toward psychiatric patients changed. The medical model was undermined and increasingly environmental factors have again been given priority. Specifically the community has been seen as the appropriate place for people who are developmentally delayed or suffering some mental illness. Support rather than institutionalisation now governs official policy. This has meant that large institutions such as Gladesville Hospital have become redundant.